The DUI Court Process
DUI Lawyers in Santa Barbara
The DUI process starts when a law enforcement officer decides to pull you over. Most DUI investigations begin when police stop your vehicle for a fix-it ticket, for a traffic violation, or because you were involved in a traffic collision. If the officer observes any objective signs of drunk driving – like the smell of alcohol or an open alcoholic container in your car – you may be subject to field sobriety testing. If the officer determines that you are intoxicated, you may investigated and arrested for violating California Vehicle Code §23152.
Phase One: The Arrest
Law enforcement may take you to a nearby police station, jail, or hospital to determine your blood alcohol concentration to determine whether or not you are driving drunk. There, law enforcement can measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) through a breath test or blood test. Breath tests are available immediately, while blood tests can take several days to produce results. If the test indicates that your BAC exceeds the legal limit (.08%), you may be charged the following crime: California Vehicle Code §23152(b). This law states that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeds .08%. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you may be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
At this time, law enforcement will inform you that your driver's license will be suspended for at least 30 days, confiscate your license, and give you a temporary license to use until the DMV implements the suspension. Then, law enforcement will book and release you. Most of the time, you will remain in custody for at least several hours. However, you may be released by posting bail or promising to appear in court. After your release, the arresting law enforcement officer will submit the arrest report to local prosecution. The prosecutor will choose to formally charge you DUI or decline to press charges against you. If prosecutors decide to pursue a DUI conviction, contact our DUI legal team immediately.
Phase Two: Schedule a DMV Hearing
A DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding used to determine whether or not your driver's license will be suspended. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to re-obtain your driver's license after a DUI arrest. The administrative license hearing is independent from your DUI court proceedings, but may discuss similar issues. For instance, the DMV may determine whether or not you were placed under lawful arrest and whether or not you operated a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeded .08%. Our firm can help you navigate the administrative hearing to re-obtain your driving privileges. To learn more contact Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP today.
Phase Three: DUI Arraignment
Arraignment is the first stop in the DUI criminal proceedings. Generally speaking, an arraignment is like a small trial before the actual trial. At this point, the prosecution might offer you plea bargain and you will have the opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you decide to plead guilty, the court will implement a sentence and close the case. Sometimes, DUI defendants wonder if a lawyer can actually help them during the arraignment process. After all, what's the point in hiring a defense attorney if you end up pleading guilty?
At Lessem& Newstat, we are skilled plea bargain negotiators. If the prosecution sees that you don't have lawyer on your side, it might offer an unfair bargain. An aggressive defense attorney can help you get a fair plea bargain, if pleading guilty is the best option for your case. On the other hand, you might assume that you don't need any legal assistance because the evidence is in your favor. Remember this: if convicted, you will be subject to the same punishment as everyone else. Work with our Santa Barbara DUI lawyers to stand the best chance of obtaining a favorable case outcome.
Phase Four: The Trial
Most DUI cases are resolved before they reach a jury. However, a considerable number of DUI arrests eventually lead to an actual trial. The jury trial begins with jury selection, followed by opening statements. At this time, the defense and prosecution present general statements delineating their sides of the case. Then, the prosecution and defense will present their cases in full. This might include witness testimony and other evidence. After the prosecution presents a case against you, the defense is given the opportunity to establish a case for your innocence. When you work with our team, you can have peace of mind knowing that a hard-hitting DUI defense lawyer will be by your side through every step of the trial. We can create effective and aggressive strategies to counter invalid or inaccurate evidence presented by the prosecution and make sure that your legal rights are protected through the entire courtroom process. After your lawyer presents a case in your favor, each side of the courtroom delivers closing statements and the jury makes a decision for or against your favor.
Phase Five: Verdict & Sentencing
If the jury decides that you are not guilty, the court closes your case. If the jury determines that you are guilty, you will receive a DUI sentence that may involve probation, incarceration, fines, alcohol treatment programs, driver's license revocation, or driver's license suspension. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we are confident in our ability to help you avoid an unnecessary DUI conviction. If you were arrested for drunk or drugged driving, you need a lawyer with the experience and commitment to produce the results you need: an attorney from our firm. Call our office today if you were arrested; the sooner we hear from you, the faster we can begin creating a defense strategy for your case.